Standards in Data Destruction (UK)

The key benefit of using software for data destruction is that it that it leaves the host equipment intact and thus available for reuse and resale with obvious financial and environmental implications. To ensure that appropriate standards are maintained in the UK data wiping equipment and software is often subject to testing and assessment by various bodies including CESG and the MOD.

Certified data wiping and data destruction in the UK is overseen by the Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG) which is the UK Government's National Technical Authority for Information Assurance. CESG establish the security specifications which are detailed in the Her Majesties Government (HMG) Infosec Standards and they also carry out product evaluations and give approvals for software and physical data destruction products. The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) also sets minimum standards for the wiping / destruction of its sensitive data.

As a minimum data should be erased to MoD Approved/CESG Baseline standards and for secure or sensitive items to Infosec Standard No 5.

At RediVivus data erasure is performed using the latest equipment and procedures conforming to UK/MoD CESG/MoD approved standards. HMG Infosec 5 covers both what is referred to as "Baseline" and "Enhanced" overwriting of data.

In HMG Infosec 5 "baseline' standard level the data wiping software overwrites every sector of the Hard disk/drive(s) with one pass of randomly generated data. This should be sufficient for all reasonable purposes and provided this process has been carried out properly poses no risk of data being subsequently recovered by anybody else - even by forensic IT specialists.

In HMG Infosec 5 "Enhanced' standard level every sector of the Hard disk/drive(s) is over-written 3 times: firstly with a digit "1", secondly every sector is over-written again but this time with a "0" and finally every sector is over written a 3rd time with randomly generated 1's and 0's.

Whether baseline or enhanced methods are undertaken a verification pass should always be applied to ensure that this disk has been effectively "wiped".  This enhanced procedure, in theory, provides a more thorough "belt & braces" approach to software data destruction.

In practice products certified by CESG to HMG Infosec Standard No. 5 Baseline can be used to wipe Government classified data up to "RESTRICTED" level when disposing of storage media outside secure environments.

HMG Infosec Standard No. 5 (Enhanced Level)  Enhanced Level products must be used when there is a requirement to clear Government data to classified as CONFIDENTIAL and SECRET.

Where disks cannot be effectively wiped they must be physically destroyed (crushed, drilled, shredded, smelted) or a "Degausser" can be used to destroy the magnetic data but this still renders modern hard drives unusable.  

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